Wade Barrett earned his first win as an interim coach in our previous Open Cup match by the tune of 4-0 over San Antonio FC. In MLS action the Dynamo have not done nearly as well as the club has gone winless for 5 straight league matches and has only collected 3 points from those 5 games. That could lead to the Dynamo putting a bit more emphasis on the Open Cup as a source of silverware as it becomes increasingly unlikely that the Dynamo can mount a playoff position comeback.
In our preview of the match we discussed the paths both the Dynamo and Sporting KC took to get to this round of the oldest soccer tournament in the US, but we wanted to know more about our rivals and what to expect so we spoke with Cody Bradley of the Blue Testament to gain some insight.
Dynamo Theory: Sporting Kansas City is the reigning US Open Cup champion, the club's third USOC title. Does Peter Vermes place a lot of emphasis on the competition, or does he try to balance things between MLS action?
The Blue Testament: Sporting and the city as a whole are proud of the history in this competition and will always love a chance to compete for more silverware. The tournament is named for Lamar Hunt who is obviously very close with Kansas City and well respected around here. But even more so than other years, you have to think there is even more incentive to do well this year in defense of their title.
Now with the way everything else is going right now, the club may not have any other choice than to put a lot of emphasis on this tournament anyway. Last round Vermes played a depleted lineup... but because he had to. It was the strongest lineup possible. Sporting KC has a Sunday match in MLS this week so with an extra day to rest, Vermes will likely play a strong starting XI against Houston.
DT: SKC had to pull some late magic in order to advance against Minnesota United FC. The game featured a pair of penalties (one per side) and a late winner in extra time to get SKC through. What made Minnesota United so difficult to get through? Was it self-inflicted mistakes? Or did Minnesota United really play up to its competition?
TBT: These early round matches against lower division teams always make me nervous. They were playing their biggest match of the year and it was in Minnesota, so I knew it wouldn't be easy. What made them difficult to get through was the same reason SKC struggles in MLS. They simple struggle with finishing chances. They have not scored more than two goals in any game this year. That being said I believe MUFC were very fortunate on the penalty call. It was definitely a foul and not a good one, but it appeared to be outside the box.
Sporting KC did well to survive that tough environment and you have to win matches like that along the way to a trophy.
DT: The Dynamo and SKC faced off in last year's Open Cup which saw the Dynamo down a man, then up a goal, and then lose the game 3-1. These games, even Open Cup matches, against each other bring out the fight in both sides. What can we expect in this game from a physical standpoint and how many cards do you believe we'll see handed out?
TBT: Any match featuring one of these teams will have a healthy dose of physicality. When they come together it always gets crazy and I love it. But now.... they meet for another elimination game. I could see this match getting really chippy even by this rivalry's standards. Both teams are going to be scrapping and clawing to advance in this tournament as they are struggling in league play. I'm expecting no less than 3 yellow cards. Hoping everyone survives without injury but I'm ready for some half shoving and almost-fights all night.
Projected Lineup: Alec Kann, Jimmy Medranda, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Soni Mustivar, Roger Espinoza, Benny Feilhaber, Connor Hallisey, Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi
Predicted Outcome: Sporting KC 3 - 2 Houston Dynamo
For my answers to Cody's questions, check them out at the Blue Testament!